Garbage Men Trained To Spot, Report Crime in Bradenton
Waste Management and Manatee County partner to train trash collectors to help report suspicious activity to authorities.
Your Bradenton garbage man may now be able to help fight crime through a partnership between Waste Management and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Manatee County area Waste Management drivers received training Wednesday on what to look for to report crime and have some special tools to help police catch suspects.
It's called the Waste Watch program, and drivers are trained on tips most folks in community should employee—if you see something or someone suspicious, report it to authorities. Waste Management has 94 employees in Manatee County serving more than 40,000 homes and nearly 3,000 businesses.
"They're out early in the morning when most folks like myself are sleeping then they're out during the daytime in your communities or they've left home and gone to work," said Joe Vidovich, who is in charge of corporate security for Waste Management. "So, they're in a position to see what's going on in your neighborhoods when you're not there."
If drivers see something suspicious, or even something such as a car crash or road hazard, they can pull over and call the Waste Management dispatch to report it or call authorities.
The national program has been rolled out in several Waste Management communities, and the company approaches local jurisdictions to see if they are interested in participating, said Amy Boyson, community affairs manager for Waste Management. Hillsborough County joined last year in preparation for the Republican National Convention, she added.
The drivers also have a dash camera at their disposal where they can flip a switch and record both driver's actions and a straight-ahead view of the camera, according to a Waste Management official. The camera will automatically turn on when the truck makes a sudden turn to track driver safety, he added.
In Manatee County, the sheriff's office, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key and Palmetto police departments are participating.
Sheriff Brad Steube sees it as a version of a community watch program.
"We're hoping we solve some crime," Steube said. "Neighborhood watch is something we believe in wholeheartedly. We've been trying for years and years and years to get the community more involved in what law enforcement does, and fortunately the last several years we're getting those phone calls."
In some cases, the drivers go beyond the call of duty and intervene.
In Naples, one driver found a child walking on the street; another driver intervened when a woman was attacked by a pit bull, Vidovich said. In another case, the driver actually saved an officer.
"An officer was engaged in a fight and was getting the better of it, unfortunately," Vidovich said. "The particular driver in this case, a fairly large guy, he neutralized the situation, and the other officers were able to provide additional assistance."
Drivers are asked to try not to intervene for their own safety, he added.
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